Colorado benefits from bioenergy effort

Source: By Colorado Corn, Farm Progress • Posted: Tuesday, November 1, 2016

USDA Farm Service Agency Administrator Val Dolcini was traveling in Colorado recently and it wasn’t to check out mountain views or see the Front Range. A key part of his visit was to highlight the agency’s recent biofuel infrastructure investments.

During the visit, Dolcini was accompanied by Don Brown, Colorado ag commissioner, and Mark Sponsler, Colorado Corn chief executive officer. Dolcini noted that Colorado is one of 21 states that received grant dollars through the USDA Biofuel Infrastructure Partnership program. It’s part of a nationwide investment of $210 million to add infrastructure needed to supply more renewable fuels to America’s drivers.

Dolcini explained: “BIP represents – from the perspective of the Obama Administration – really an all of the above strategy, when it comes to national energy policy. We’ve done a lot of good work in this nation over the last number of years to develop our own energy – natural gas and oil – but we’re also really looking to the future, to see what the next stage in our energy development as a nation will be. And I think – as does the Department of Agriculture – that biofuels are really what that’s all about.”
FUELING UP: Cars like this one that can use flex fuels, will benefit from more E85 pumps at more stations in Colorado as part of a program supported by USDA. (Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Through the BIP program Colorado received $600,000, which with matching funds from various partners, will add another 84 biofuel pumps at 17 stations throughout the state. That will add to the 101 stations in the state that already sell E85 – 85% ethanol, 15% gasoline. The investment will give drivers more fuel choices at the pump. A typical gas pump delivers fuel with 10% ethanol, which limits how much renewable fuel a consumer can buy.

The new partnership will increase the number of pumps, storage and related infrastructure that offer higher blends of ethanol, such as E15, E85, and even intermediate combination blends. The matching contributions may also be used for related costs including education, data collection and program evaluation.

This BIP partnership will expand markets for farmers, support rural economic growth and job creation. USDA estimates that BIP grants will support nearly 5,000 pumps over 1,400 fueling stations. You can learn more about the program on the FSA website.

Colorado Corn’s Sponsler says the program will be a “big deal for corn producers, but we absolutely see it as a much larger issue.” He adds that the USDA commitment is important. “While we have so many naysayers out there – so many who maybe have investments in the status quo, who would like to see our energy base stay the same -we really have to move forward past that.”

Colorado Corn lists these ethanol facts:

Reduced emissions – In 2015, ethanol was credited with lowering our nation’s CO2-equivalent greenhouse gas emissions from transportation by 41.2 million metric tons – the equivalent of removing 8.7 million cars from the road.

Improving health – Biofuels displace other cancer-causing gasoline additives, like benzene, which is the same chemical found in cigarette smoke.

Reduced imported oil – With 14.8 billion gallons of domestic ethanol used in the U.S. in 2015, our net import oil dependence was lowered to 25 percent, but otherwise would have been 32 percent.

Economic impact – In 2015, ethanol supported 85,967 direct jobs, added $44 billion to our GDP, and increased household income by $24 billion, much of which took place in our nation’s rural areas.

Lowering fuel prices at the pump – The increase in overall fuel supplies with domestically produced ethanol being blended with gasoline helps lower gas prices at the pump, by anywhere from $0.50-$1.50 per gallon.

Positive energy balance – One unit of energy invested in the corn ethanol production process results in 2.3 units of usable energy in the form of ethanol.

And there’s plenty of corn to go around – Today’s efficient farmers ensure adequate supplies of corn are available for use in food, biofuels and other purposes, while also carrying over 1.5 to 2.5 billion bushels annually.

Source: Colorado Corn